The Summer House

By Tony Connor

The Danube glitters and toils
just beyond the walnut trees.
The Great Writer sits at ease
among blooms and disciples.

A garden with an old man
younger men drinking his wine;
his voice is slow and benign,
the others pause to listen.

When he has nothing to say
he smiles, and sniffs a pink rose
that straggles near his nose.
Sometimes he closes one eye.

His wife, in her painting-smock,
serves us hors d’oeuvres and tidbits.
She bustles about, then sits
to chatter and have a smoke.

How idyllic, how humane!
I think, testing the thought: —
for such scenes are dearly bought
when foreign troops ring a town.

Betrayals, maybe, and lies
earned them a peaceful old age;
chewing lox I try to gauge
the character of each face.

But I don’t know the language,
and they’re all strangers to me.
Everybody looks guilt-free,
sunlit near the water’s edge.

I included, it must be,
as I stare at the old man
like some homage-heavy fan
silenced by proximity.

Calmed by thoughts that I too wear
the double-dealer’s false face,
I begin to like the place,
and move out from my corner.

With the interpreter’s help
I talk of Art in the West
for a charming poet-guest
who downs vodka at a gulp.